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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - I wish to engage the attention of the Committee only for a moment in order to correct some misstatements which have been made by honorable senators in regard to the number of Jews in the Commonwealth.

Senator Vardon - I do not care if there are only 1,000. We have to consider the principle, not merely the number of persons affected. It is not the number, but the principle, which matters.

Senator FINDLEY - Honorable senators have said that they do not care whether the number is 1, or 1,000, or 20,000. I am not questioning that. Senator Barker said he believed that the Jewish population in the Commonwealth was about 27,000, and in reply to a question he told me that he was not in a position to give the number of adult Jews. According to the latest edition of Knibbs, the total number Of Jews in the Commonwealth is 15,229, made up as follows : - New South Wales, 6,447 >

Queensland, 733 j South Australia, 786 ; Tasmania, 107 ; Victoria, 5,897 ; and Western Australia, 1,259.

Senator St Ledger - What ! Only 733 Jews in Queensland. Tell that to the marines.

Senator McColl - That is the number according to the census which was taken ten years ago.

Senator FINDLEY - It is the number according to the latest edition of Knibbs.

Senator McColl - He has not the figures for the last census made up yet.

Senator McGregor - Senator Barker's estimate is only 12,000 above the total given by Knibbs.

Senator FINDLEY - Suppose that, during the decade, there was an increase of 10,000 in the Jewish population. That would bring the total to 25,230. If we divide that number by three, which is a very fair division, we shall find that, approximately, the adult Jews number a little over 8,000. No honorable senator will venture for a moment to say that the whole of the adult Jews have a conscientious objection to voting on a Saturday.

Senator St Ledger - Suppose that onehalf of them have?

Senator FINDLEY - I do not believe that, in the Commonwealth, there are more than a couple of thousand adult Jews who would have a conscientious objection to vote on a Saturday.

Senator Vardon - It would be very easy to make provision for 2,000 to vote.

Senator FINDLEY - It is very easy, I know, to open the door in regard to postal voting; but the Senate has declared emphatically against that system, and the Government are not prepared to open the door in the slightest degree. It has been pointed out here half-a-dozen times to-day that the Government have met the conscientious objectors in a very reasonable way indeed. The probability is that the next general election will be held at a period when the sun will go down at about 6 o'clock, and between that hour and 8 o'clock, the conscientious objectors will have an opportunity to vote.

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